The Zeroth Law of SEO

Written by Dan Richards on February 28, 2017

As an undergraduate engineering student I was introduced to the zeroth law of thermodynamics. This law basically says that if A is the same temperature as B, and B is the same temperature as C, then A is the same temperature as C. This sounds blindingly obvious but it’s a necessary law to overcome a paradox created by some of the other laws of thermodynamics.

Truthfully, I never really got on with thermodynamics, but the idea that a simple statement needs to be made in order to make all of the other complex laws work properly is interesting, it’s called the zero-law because all the other laws follow on from it and it was discovered after the rest, so they couldn’t call it the 1st law without moving all the other laws up a place and confusing everyone.

Which brings me to what I am going to call the zeroth law of SEO. There are many, many “laws” of SEO, encompassing on site factors, link building, social signals, content, keywords etc, some have more validity than others but the SEO community and their clients would do well to remember one underlying principal. Without this one simple “law” none of the rest of SEO will help you. Ladies and gentlemen, the zeroth law of SEO:

Don’t have a crap website.

Nothing makes my heart sink more than being asked to “do some SEO” on a site that looks like it was designed and built in 1995 and hasn’t been updated since. No amount of link building, Facebook likes or optimising markup is going to change the fact that the site is awful. Even if by some miracle it did make it to number one for some keyword or other, then the bounce rate is likely to be astronomical and pretty quickly signal to search engines that it probably shouldn’t be at number one. Before you decide to try and get your site to number one spot for that juicy search term, ask yourself honestly – does it deserve to be there? If the answer is no, improve it, then worry about SEO. If you don’t, you might get lucky with some grey hat SEO, but sooner or later the zeroth law will catch up with you. If you need more advice on how to improve your SEO, get in touch, we’re always happy to help.